T h e  T o r r e n t
A newsletter of the Connecticut Department of  
Energy & Environmental Protection 
exploring floodplain management issues  
Volume 20, No. 1                                                                                                        June 2014
Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014Affordability
On March 21, 2014, President Obama signed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA) into law.  This law repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) and makes additional program changes. 

The new law requires gradual flood insurance rate increases to properties receiving subsidized rates, with increases between 5-15% per year, with a per property cap of no more than 18%, until full-risk rates are achieved.  Subsidized non-primary residences, businesses and severe repetitive loss properties will continue to receive a 25% annual rate increase until full actuarial rates are achieved.  Immediate full risk rating for new policy purchases (sale of a property) was repealed.  Refunds will be provided to these property owners.  FEMA is required to restore pre-FIRM rates to these policyholders. 

Grandfathering rules were also reinstated.  However, grandfathering was replaced with a new grandfathering section that establishes a slower path to full-risk rates.  For flood insurance policies purchased after March 21, 2014 and newly mapped into a floodplain, grandfathering will not be an option.  The first year premium would be equivalent to a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) and then premiums will be gradually increased by 5-15% annually until full-risk rates are achieved.  All policies will receive an annual surcharge ($25 for a primary residence, $250 all other properties) which will be deposited into the NFIP reserve fund.  The residential deductible limit was also raised from $5,000 to $10,000.

Hurricane Sandy Funding Still AvailableSandy
Hurricane Sandy funds are still available to assist residents and municipalities.

The Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) has funds available for municipalities, owner-occupied residences, and business to assist with unmet needs. More information can be found on the DOH website or go to the Connecticut Recovers website.

The Connecticut Department of Community & Economic Development (DECD), State Historic Preservation Office, has funds available for historic structures with damage from Sandy.  More information can be found on the DECD website.

Changes to State Building Code Affect Elevation StandardsBuildingCode

Effective February 28, 2014, the Office of the State Building Inspector (OSBI) amended the current state building code to adopt the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC).  For more information, please visit the OSBI website.   


The adoption of the 2009 IRC has made significant elevation requirements for RESIDENTIAL (one and two family homes, townhouses) new construction and substantially improved structures in coastal floodplains that may be different than the standards contained within your local floodplain zoning regulations or ordinance.

The 2009 IRC, Section R322 Flood-Resistant Construction contains the elevation requirements for A, AE and Coastal AE zones (Section R322.2.1) and VE zones (Section R322.3.2).  Below is a summary of these requirements: 

AE and A Zone - Lowest floor elevated to Base Flood Elevation (BFE).


Coastal AE Zone (area defined as the Limit of Moderate Wave Action [LiMWA] on a flood insurance rate map) - Lowest floor elevated to BFE plus 1 foot.


VE Zone - BFE if the lowest horizontal structural member is oriented parallel to the direction of wave approach, where parallel shall mean less than or equal to 20 degrees (0.35 rad) from the direction of approach; or BFE plus 1 foot if the lowest horizontal structural member is oriented perpendicular to the direction of wave approach, where perpendicular shall mean greater than 20 degrees (0.35 rad) from the direction of approach.


Local floodplain administrators and building officials are urged to coordinate and make appropriate internal procedures to ensure that construction meets the appropriate standards required.

Town officials should also consider modifying local floodplain zoning regulations to incorporate the changes to the amended state building code.

In order for your local floodplain regulations to match the state building code, the easiest fix is to have the "BFE+1 foot" elevation standard for all flood zones.  This eliminates the need to determine parallel versus perpendicular wave approach in a VE zone.  It eliminates having to determine the location of a Coastal AE zone if all A and AE zones are held to the higher elevation standard.  It also presents a unified standard across all zones.

The 2009 IRC applies only to residential construction.  Changes only need to be made to the residential portion of the floodplain regulations at this time.  The OSBI states that the commercial building code will be updated in late 2015 and will likely include similar higher elevation standards.


Making changes to both the residential and commercial standards at this time is prudent to get ahead of the commercial building code changes planned for next year.  If you community needs assistance with regulation language, please contact Diane Ifkovic, State NFIP Coordinator, (860) 424-3537 or by email at diane.ifkovic@ct.gov.

National Hurricane Center to Issue New Storm Surge MapsSurgeMap
Beginning with the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC) will issue the new Potential Storm Surge Flood Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from a tropical cyclone.  Developed over the course of several years in consultation with emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and others, this new map will show geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water could reach in those areas. 

The map will take into account such factors as tides, land elevation, flooding due to storm surge, and uncertainties in storm track.  The map will not take into account wave action, freshwater flooding from rainfall and flooding inside levees.  Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.  However, many people do not understand this term or the threat it represents.  The map will be issued at the same time as the initial tropical storm or hurricane watch and will be based on the latest forecast track and intensity.  The map will show inundation levels that have a 10-percent chance of being exceeded, and can therefore be thought of as representing a reasonable worst-case scenario for any given location.  The map will be subject to change every six hours in association with every new NHC update. 

The Potential Storm Surge Flood Map will be part of an interactive display made available on the
NHC website when hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for portions of the United States.  The map will be experimental for at least two years, during which time comments from users will be solicited and gathered.  Visit the NHC Storm Surge website for more information.  A fact sheet for emergency managers on how to use this tool is available. Also available is a
Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins June 1Hurricane
The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and runs until November 30.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.  El Ni�o, which stronger wind shear, is expected to develop and suppress the number and intensity of tropical cyclones.  El Ni�o can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms. NOAA is predicting 8-13 named storms, 3-6 which could intensify into hurricanes, and 1-2 becoming a major hurricane.  Read the complete NOAA 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook.

Don't let your guard down.  All it takes is one storm to strike.  Is your community ready? 
Go to the FloodSmart website, www.floodsmart.gov, to access hurricane preparedness resources.
Surging Seas Risk Finder for New EnglandClimate
Climate Central recently launched its enhanced Surging Seas Risk Finder for the New England states.  The Risk Finder is a public web tool that provides local projections, maps and assessments of exposure to sea level rise and coastal flooding tabulated for every zip code.  Exposure assessments cover over 100 demographic, economic, infrastructure and environmental variables using data drawn mainly from federal sources. 

Features and analysis include downloadable data including detailed projects, place summary tables, and low-lying facility lists; improved maps which include a property value layer; more forecasts including the latest IPCC projection; more places and variables analyzed such as military areas, parks, protected land and colleges; and dynamic threat rankings by variable and water level.  Access the Risk Finder. 

Economic Benefits of Coastal Restoration ProjectsRestoration
On April 9, 2014, the Center for American Progress and Oxfam America released a report on the long-term economic benefits of restoring coastal ecosystems.  The report finds that each dollar invested by taxpayers returns more than $15 in net economic benefits for three restoration projects funded in 2009 by stimulus grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Healthy coastal ecosystems provide not just environmental benefits, but critical social and environmental benefits as well.  They filter pollution, buffer coasts against extreme weather, serve as nurseries that sustain fisheries, and support tourism, recreation, and the culture of coastal communities.  However, we are losing wetlands at the rate of seven football fields an hour due to development, pollution and sea-level rise.  The long-term payout of restored coastal ecosystems can help sustain local communities down the road.  View the full report.

Training Opportunities Training



Register for webinars. Select the "Upcoming" tab to see a list of upcoming webinars. Below are webinars offered this summer.   


June 17 - CRS/Preparing for a Verification Visit, 1:00pm (1hour) 

June 18 - CRS/Natural Floodplain Function, 1:00pm (1 hour)

July 15  - Introduction to CRS, 1:00pm (1 hour)

July 16  - CRS/Drainage System Maintenance/Activity 540, 1:00pm (1 hour)

Aug 19  - CRS/Preparing an Annual Recertification, 1:00pm (1 hour)

Aug 20  - CRS/Natural Floodplain Function, 1:00pm (1 hour) 


September 2-5, 2014:  Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference, Santa Clara, CA, www.floodplain.org

November 19-21, 2014:  2014 FLASH Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, www.flash.org.

May 31-June 5, 2015:  Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) 39th Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, www.floods.org


The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is located at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  EMI serves as the national center for emergency management training of federal, state and local government officials.  Tuition, housing, and all books and materials are provided at no cost.  Participants are responsible for the cost of a meal pass (approximately $150/week).  Below is a select list of floodplain management classes offered until the end of 2014. A full list of training classes can be found at the EMI website.  
E170  HAZUS for Hurricane - October 6-9
E172  HAZUS for Flood - December 1-4
E176  HAZUS-MH for Floodplain Managers - November 10-13
E273  Managing Floodplain Development through the NFIP - September 15-18
E278  NFIP/Community Rating System - August 11-14
E279  Retrofitting Flood-prone Residential Buildings - July 28-31
E313  Basic HAZUS-MH - August 4-7, December 15-18
E386  Residential Coastal Construction - August 18-21
Visit the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep.  Published by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Inland Water Resources Division, Floodplain Management Program.  Editor:  Diane Ifkovic, State National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Coordinator, email:  diane.ifkovic@ct.gov.
CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employer that is committed to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Please contact us at (860) 418-5910 or by email at deep.accommodations@ct.gov if you have a disability and need a communication aid or service, have limited proficiency in English and may need information in another language, or if you wish to file and ADA or Title VI discrimination complaint.